• Ian Passmore

Passmore's Picks: The Conductor's Survival Kit

This month, as many budding maestri could be heading back to school (kind of), or going to study conducting for the first time, I'll be listing some of my favorite "supplies." These are in no particular order, aside from their respective categories: batons, cases, bags, etc. There is also an attached Google photo gallery, featuring some of these folks' exceptional work. I hope it's helpful! :)

Photo gallery:

Baton cases:

  • Camacho Leather Designs ( Manny Camacho has made a couple cases for my fiancee and me over the years. Both are pictured in the Google photo gallery.

  • Newland Custom Batons ( Tate Newland's batons are exceptional, but so are his cases. The canvas one in the gallery served me well for over a decade.

  • Creo Designs ( I have actually never ordered from Creo; but they reached out to me recently, and appear to make some really high-quality stuff for some really high-quality musicians.

Baton makers:

  • Custom Batons ( My fiancee and I have been using Chris Blount's batons for as long as we've both been conducting. He's arguably the most recognized maker in the US, and certainly one of the most skilled.

  • PaGu Batons ( Phil Aguglia is a public school teacher in NY, and he also happens to make some of the best batons in the business. His fitting process and craftsmanship are second to none.

  • Donaldson Batons ( David Donaldson is an Alaskan baton maker that I've been in contact with for the past year or so. He's made some really beautiful batons for my fiancee and me, as well as for John Williams!

  • Garrett Music Products ( Roger Garrett was the long-time clarinet professor at Illinois Wesleyan University. I have only recently ordered from him; but he's been at it for many years, and it shows in his work.

  • ShopDog Turnery ( Jim Barbour is a woodworker, economics professor, and fellow dog lover near my hometown in North Carolina. The first baton he made for me was actually the first baton he'd made, ever! I've ordered a few from him since then, and they're all outstanding. He also made my fiancee's engagement ring box :)

  • DBatons ( I only own one baton made by Dennis Benson--who is a longtime public school teacher in Minnesota--but that one baton is easily one of the most comfortable and best-looking that I've ever used.

FREE metronome, tuner, and thesaurus apps:

Tuning fork ( I use what a former teacher of mine called the "brute force" method of teaching yourself perfect pitch, or something that'll get you kind of, sort of close to it. Use the tuning fork to memorize A440 Hz as a reference point for everything else. Sounds A LOT easier than it actually is, just FYI....

Score marking supplies: I used to mark only in pencil; but my eyes have been bad since the third grade, and they're not getting any better. So, unless I've got something memorized, I go for color nowadays. Highlighters and pens by Sharpie that don't bleed through the page (that really depends on the paper); as well as two of the different kinds of tabs that I use for quickly getting to a different movement of the same piece, or any other reason you might need to skip several pages at once (long repeats, DC/DS, coda, etc.).

But how do I carry all of that stuff?! There are many good bags available that will fit all your batons, scores, etc. The one made for me several years ago by White Buffalo Republic ( is my favorite.

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